Patriarch of Referees

H. H. ROXBOROUGH May 1 1935

Patriarch of Referees

H. H. ROXBOROUGH May 1 1935

Patriarch of Referees


HERE’S A MAN who celebrated his sixty-seventh year by refereeing twenty-five lacrosse games and forty hockey matches.

His name is Fred C. Waghorne and he’s probably the world’s champion referee.

Back in 1889, young "Wag" played third home for the then title-holding Young Canadian Lacrosse Club. He refereed his first lacrosse match in the days of the horse-car. Long before the first airplane had been flown, his reputation as a hockey official had been well established.

Since then he has presided over some 2,500 sports contests. Most of the lacrosse field and hockey arenas in Eastern Canada have known the piercing note of his whistle or the tolling of his handbell.

He’s been a bear for punishment. He has refereed thirteen games in one week ; six hockey matches in one day.

And he has no thought of retiring. His son, Frederick, the second, is president of the Ontario Lacrosse Association; his grandson, Frederick, the third, is now a popular and efficient referee. But "Grandpa” still considers himself the liveliest member of the family.

Last summer he visited Cornwall, the shrine of Canadian lacrosse. He handled four games in six days, and the sports writers agreed that his officiating was the finest ever witnessed in Cornwall’s long lacrosse history.

Like most referees, “Wag” has known moments when his decisions have planted murderous desires in the hearts of men who normally were lovable husbands and kind fathers. On one of these occasions teams from Shelburne and Bradford were playing, and the melody of the final whistle was still in the air when the home crowd showed an overwhelming desire to wring the referee’s hand—or neck. Mr. Waghorne, sensing that urge, streaked to the nearest hotel, and there a group of friendly stalwarts hoisted him over the bar into the quiet seclusion of corks and bungs. Later, during a temporary lull in the bombardment, the referee, disguised as a respectable citizen, reached the station just in time to catch his train, elude his pursuers and extend to them that well-known international salute which sometimes means “Ha! I fooled you.”

Though his decisions have not always been unanimously approved, "Wag’s” strictness has made him many friends and secured for him the most important engagements in Canada and United States. But occasionally players tire of his constant tagging and severity, and one day they enjoyed a good laugh. This particular game was played by professionals. The score was close and the excitement intense. Sticks were wildly swung, and the referee’s thumb was jerking toward the penalty bench with the frequency of a hitch-hiker on a crowded highway. So relentlessly did Fred follow the play that the performers hated even his shadow; but their turn came. In the rush of battle, “Wag” dropped his whistle, yet dashed ahead into the play. The players, taking advantage of the unusual situation, began "mixing it” and returned punch for sock, while the referee couldn’t decide whether to follow the play, try to stop the fights, or go back and search for his lost symbol of authority. Eventually, he decided to retrieve the whistle.

Playing in “Wag” Time

BUT MR. WAGHORNE has been more than a referee. He has introduced many new ideas that have greatly increased the popularity of both hockey and lacrosse. For instance, he contributed to the winter sport the use of a bell and the method of facing the puck.

In early hockey days, when many arenas were lighted with coal-oil lamps, the rinks were so cold that it was not unusual for whistles to freeze to the referee’s lips; and to add to the officials’

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skeleton derrick gripped and lifted the first pair of rails, in silence rose from the prairie grass the fighting men of Crowfoot, grim faces streaked with paint and short guns nestling in their armpits.

Ten car lengths back the driver leaned from his cab window and looked forward; the spiking gang, bare to the waist, rested muscular hands on the hafts of hammer handles, a pair of rails not yet clear of the front flat, hung suspended, and in an instant the whole complex mechanism ceased to function. Rivers it had crossed, swamps where the track floated on a blanket of roots above unfathomed depths of slime, forests it had traversed, blackened wastes where bush fire had laid its hand of death, through granite hills it had burrowed triumphantly, and here under the rising sun on the warm breast of the prairie with flowers spangling the waving grass these men of a new world met those of the old ; met the hard stare of flashing alien eyes, and the wedge point of the all-red line, urged forward by brains and money and courage of invisible armies, encountered a semicircle of blanketed pagans ready to die ere it progressed another foot.

From Brandon, more than 600 miles to the east, they had laid the iron trail since spring smiled across the prairie; laid it with laughter and curses and a sort of inhuman frenzy that searched the body for its ultimate endurance, ' then demanded more. Caught up in a mounting lust for mileage, these strong-backed Crusaders, protagonists of the new doctrine of power and steel, set one day against the last. With ever increasing ardor they mocked at weariness, and greeted each rising sun determined that night should fall on yesterday’s record smashed. Time and again they smashed it. Behind them in Montreal was Shaughnessy —alert, far-seeing, living at the end of a wire, spending millions and flinging westward rails from England, spikes from Pennsylvania, spruce ties from forests east of Winnipeg, lumber from Minnesota, supplies, food, doctors, cooks, carpenters, blacksmiths, engineers. There was no break in this flood; that which was wanted appeared in the appointed place at the appointed hour; and, animating all, there would descend from his car at the end of steel the burly figure of Van Horne, with his black cigar, clothed in godlike authority, bluff, commanding, explosive, dominant, the electrical nucleus of the whole gigantic effort, the man of almost mythical powers, whose nod meant more than words, whose driving force found its emblem in every swinging hammer.

That the triumphant march should now be halted by a few painted redskins seemed ridiculous, and the foreman, laughing, lifted his hand. As he did so, the short-barrelled guns came level.

“Min-ots-chis! You shall place nothing here!”

IT WAS curt, definite, final. These copperfaced men were of far more ancient lineage than the newcomers. In their tawny breasts the blood coursed proudly, stark memories were theirs of death and tribal feuds when the sudden warwhoop rang shrilly through many a coulee, when the dripping scalp was lifted high and screams of a tortured enemy roused a bloodlust that drank deep and even now was scarcely quenched. For how many

wandering centuries had not death shared their pointed teepees, so why should they fear him now? And with all their wild souls they hated the thing that had come to eat up the land that, they were assured, had been set aside for them for ever.

The sun climbed up, but for the first time in that blazing summer the all-red line stood still.

Now the news of this business was brought to Crowfoot as he sat in his lodge pondering over many things, and his face darkened as he listened. He knew his fighting men as no white could know them, knew also that the prairie police were not far away in Calgary, and perceived that here was the making of great trouble.

Then, turning his mind in many directions, a great wisdom came to him.

Père Lacombe, clothed in cassock with the gold cross on his breast, sat reading the Word of God in the shack that served for his mission house in the days when the new settlement town of Calgary was bom. Fiftysix years now since in the paroisse of St. Sulpice he had first seen the light, and the greying hair and seamed lines of his noble face told the story of a life of labor for the love of man.

At times he would raise his bronzed head and glance out of a small window at a scene that seemed to change even as he watched. A few years previously it had been empty space, part of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s great game preserve, but now the prairie was dotted with shacks like his own, some scattered at random like grain, others roughly in line, and between these were suggestions of streets with roads beginning to be discernible, rutted deep in the friable earth. Calgary was a wooden town beside the Bow River that here flowed deep between high clay banks; a boom town, one of those swiftly determined habitations that sprang up as though overnight, straddling haphazard across the anticipated route of the all-red line.

Until a few months ago, Calgary was but an outpost for the Mounted Police, a rendezvous for ranchers, but now from his window the black-robed voyageur saw, as he had seen in Winnipeg not long before, the birth pangs of a city.

THE HUMAN stream was widening, deepening, transforming this wilderness where of late marched the buffalo herds. In high-wheeled, canvas-topped Red River carts they came, spreading as spreads the rising tide, heralding the iron horse now not far away. North, west and south they trickled, the red eyes of their camp fires of buffalo bones pricking into the night, north into the Red Deer and Medicine country, west over the suave slopes of the foothills, southward into the fat lands that lie between the Bow and the Belly, avid for the riches of a virgin soil, seizing tenure and squatting where they chose; while in Calgary itself the gamble in land ran high and fantastic prices were paid as soon as asked. There was no end to this tide, and Lacombe felt thankful that his friends—the Blackfeet a little to the east, Sarcees and Stonies to the west— were safely on Government reserves that no speculator could filch from them.

About to turn again to the well-thumbed Bible, he saw galloping toward him a young Blackfcot hunter on a fast horse.

One hour later the Oblate father was urging a light cart over the prairie, lashing his team to top speed, while behind him jolted 200 lb. weight each of tea, sugar and tobacco, hastily commandeered from the Hudson’s Bay Stores. Beside him cantered the hunter. Knowing the manner of man with whom he had to deal, Lacombe prayed that he might arrive before blood be shed, and laid the rolling miles behind him. Past Carcase Hill and the Drifting Sand Hills, where the Bow flows deep through thickly wooded bottoms, sparing neither lash nor beast, he drove like the wind till, on a rise, he drew a breath of thankfulness when Crowfoot, perceiving him from a distance, lifted his right hand. The tracklayers were sullenly restive, but across the line stood as they had stood since sunrise, the fighting men with ready weapons.

A hurried word there, a petition to Van Horne’s men for a little more patience and that they remain where they were, then the weary Oblate turned to Crowfoot:

"You did well to send for me; now call the tribe that we may hold council together.”

At this the word went forth, and with these two in the midst, the fighting men gathered under the hot August sun, squatting silent on the grass, w'hile behind them squaws and children stood at the teepees, waiting that which should befall. Eyery male adult Blackfoot was in that motionless circle, beady eyes unwinking, browm fingers gripping what lay under the blankets over their knees. Close by lifted the gaunt arms of the tracklaying machine, loaded flats and panting engine, and the lounging whites watched, half curious, half insolent. No record would be made that day—they knew this much—but it was beyond their understanding that the tall bareheaded priest in the stained cassock stood between them and bloodshed.

Now Crowfoot lifted his six feet of aged manhood and spoke to his people.

“It is well that you have waited to hear one whose tongue is not crooked, and here is Arsous-kitsi-rarpi, the Man of Good Heart, of whom you know, to tell you more of this affair. He is our friend, and will give us truth. It is now twenty-five summers since first the news of him came to us in the year of the great sickness, and soon afterward he himself followed the word and came himself. That was in the days when there was war between us and the Crees, and when he arrived he told us that on the way he had passed, hanging from trees and without hands or feet, the bodies of our warriors who were killed by the Crees.

“In the time of the great sickness he cared for us, also doing the same for the Crees and Piegans and Bloods, for it is true that where the sun shines this Man of Good Heart has no enemies, and of his own sickness when it came he thought not at all.

“With us he has hunted the buffalo, nor was there any fear in him when he journeyed north with our people led by Natous. It was that winter in the night when the Assiniboines and Crees fell upon us, not knowing that this Man of Good Heart was with us, and in the middle of the fight, he, having no gun, came forth and walked between them and us, calling out that the fighting should cease. Then he himself, being struck by a bullet, fell down, whereat our braves called to the Assiniboines what they had done in wounding their Blackrobe, and, hearing this, the fighting did cease.

“I have said that he is friend to all the prairie dwellers, and Sweet Grass, chief of the Crees, will tel! you the same thing. He was a small man of no stature, shamed by reason of his smallness and taunted by his people, whereupon he rode south and alone to the Blackfoot country, returning presently with the scalp of a Blackfoot councillor and forty ponies and a bunch of sweet grass dipped in Blackfoot blood, whereby the name was given; but not many moons after that when he had talk with the Man of Good Heart, the sign of the strange god was made on his forehead, and then came peace between us and the Crees.

“Listen, therefore, to what the Blackrobe shall say, for his heart is open to us all. I have spoken.”

A MURMUR ran round the squatting circle, while every eye turned to Lacombe, and because he knew them he had already arranged certain things with the squaws, who now came forward with sugar, tobacco and kettles of tea. In this fashion he first “opened his mouth” with such gifts as experience had taught him were most acceptable, and not until a hundred pipes were lit did he begin to speak.

“Many years have passed over me since first I came from the east to labor among you and there is much that I could say, but many words are a weariness and now I would tell you of the white men who are laying the iron road. They have come from the great lakes of sweet water, and the road comes with them, and far in the East I was with them two summers ago, healing their sickness and burying their dead as I have buried yours. They are not enemies of the Blackfeet, and behind them are following more white men like flocks of the grey goose that cannot be numbered. As a river that flows toward the setting sun, they will come, nor is there anything that will stop them. As for this land of yours, it is necessary that some very little of it be used for the iron road, but I, Arsous-kitsi-rarpi, speak with a straight tongue and promise that other land will be given in its place, and before many moons you yourselves will be travelling on this road very swiftly, for it will serve you as well as the whites. The truth I now tell you, and if there is in your hearts anything that before this I have said that is false, this is the time to call it to mind. I myself will write to the chief of all white chiefs in the East that you shall be given more land than is now taken. But first let the iron road proceed in peace. I have spoken.”

With this he seated himself beside Crowfoot, and a deep-throated murmur ran round the ring of fighting men. The tea was warm and sweet in their bellies, the white man’s tobacco rose as incense, the tall Blackrobe whose words they heard was one who had always given everything, asking nothing, and they knew that truth lay under his tongue. Then while one might hold his breath there was silence, till the oldest warrior rose to his feet and, masking his short gun with a bright yellow blanket, walked majestically to his teepee.

So came the end of the last stand the Indian was destined to make against the coming of the white man’s road. In ten minutes Lacombe and Crowfoot sat alone on the grass. The Oblate waved his arm to the tracklayers. There came a whine from the gaunt machine, a pair of rails lifted, dropped and were swiftly centred, the spikers’ hammers swung up, and there began the sharp ringing clamor of steel on iron.

The all-red line had come to life again and thrust on toward the Rockies.

ONE HUNDRED and fifty miles west of Blackfoot crossing, Big John stood watching a jump drill in a side cut on Big Hill. This piece of hexagonal steel was twenty feet long with a chisel-shaped point, and attached by rope at its upper end to a spring pole so that when jerked sharply downward the chisel struck savagely at the bottom of a hole now some ten feet deep. The diameter of the hole was perhaps an inch and a half, and at each plunging stroke the spring pole snatched back the steel for its next blow. Periodically a little water was poured in, and the hole cleaned of sludge much as one cleans the barrel of a rifle. This contrivance, evolved in a primitive fashion, was a labor saver, and used as often as the depth of the required hole made it desirable.

John nodded approvingly and moved on to the next gang, but his gaze roved as he went, for from this point the eye could travel an immense distance. To the east where the right of way had been recently cut and felled timber still smoldered, the air was hazy in the direction of the Great Divide, where the all-red line straddled the height of land between prairie country' and the Columbia, the Kicking Horse Pass marking the division between rivers tributary’ to the Arctic Ocean on one side and the Pacific on the other. ’Twas the backbone of the Rockies.

Northward across blue gulfs of air lay ranges that built a gateway to the Yoho Valley, cloud-capped sentinels on guard, unmapped and unexplored; while below, far, far below in a wide sandy bottom to which the line must now descend, lay the Kicking Horse River after its plunge from the Great Divide.

Looking into this abyss, it appeared incredible that the rails could ever reach those level stretches, and so it came that the descent of Big Hill afforded an extraordinarypicture, for thither the engineers had staked the route. There could be no straight track laid but a succession of looping curves clinging to giddy slopes, each foot of them achieving a fraction of descent, doubling back on each other, twisting, writhing in serpentine convolutions with switchbacks where no curve was possible, clawing for safe foothold, poised over depths where the Kicking Horse laughed in silver foam and ranks of tall spruce trees stood up like lilliputian saplings.

Big John had reached the Rockies in the course of a long pilgrimage, following the steel as far as Onderdonk had laid it, then up the Fraser to Lytton, and so along the right-of-way to Kamloops; thence following Rogers over the Eagle Pass to the Columbia. Here he waited until he was rafted across by some Indians, and then he tackled Rogers Pass, where there was no road but a blazed trail through the inferno of the upper Illecillewaet. It was absurd to think that a railway could ever pass here, but there were the blazes. Standing beside one, he could see the next perhaps a hundred feet ahead, a white scar on a dark brown bole—a fresh wound from the hand of man—and they beckoned him on with hypnotic power. “Follow us,” they said, and John followed till in the eastern distance he caught the boom and rattle of blasting where Big Hill looked down on the Kicking Horse Valley.

It seemed that he was pursuing the outline of a monstrous, endless, deathless snake. At points the right-of-way had not been cleared and here he walked through thick bush, and the snake seemed to have died ; but, topping the next rise, he could trace it by scars on the mountain flanks and smoke in timbered areas, dismembered sections that stretched far out of sight. It persisted, it struggled, it could not die; and by insensible degrees his mind began to conceive a vague picture of some power behind it all, so that he would have been shocked had it come to an end.

AS HE TRAVELLED he slept in camps where night found him, hearing talk of men who till now had been almost mythical —of Van Home and Rogers, and Holt, the big contractor on Big Hill, and Dan Mann, another contractor who could pick up any stranger he met and hold him at arms’ length, feet off the ground. There was talk too, by other men speeding westward ahead of the steel, looking for work in rock and earth, or to take out ties and timber. There was whisky along the line, but, strangely, John found no taste for it, nor did he hanker for cards, being too interested otherwise. When his money ran out he had worked for a few weeks, then took to the right-of-way again as though something was calling him. No one knew or cared anything about Yale in this part of the world—it seemed a long way off—and to John only two figures stood out at all sharply irom the past—the figures of two women. And he had sent no letter to Graveyard.

He assumed, and rightly, that Graveyard had the money ready, but against this and with a novel urge of self-respect, he weighed the fact that his patch of gravel on Sawmill Bar was worth practically nothing, and claims were going begging on the Lower Fraser. Then why—the puzzle had been in his head since he left Yale—why should Molly want to get tid of him? Viewed at long range and still retaining that strangely mixed impression she created at the very last, he entertained a lurking resentment. He was obliged, but he had objected. Now he knew that the right thing had been done, but squirmed at the fact that it was under pressure from a woman. She could keep her money.

So different the other woman—the respectable one. Now he felt as though he had been sick, and wandered, and in lucid moments had a glimpse of tine only tiling of its kind in his part of the world, real in its own way but certainly not for him. This other woman had secrets not to be shared by those like himself; she would move about and live with her own sort, not his: she had pluck; she had called him yellow, and, as he at last began to see. he realized that he had been yellow.

So what with this and the curious effect of following the snake that could not die, and encountering so many who knew and had seen so much more than himself, he acquired a sort of humility, out of which grew the desire to have something to do with what must certainly be the biggest thing in the world. People on the Coast had been dubious and satirical as to the line ever being finished. One knew better now.

It was such a spirit, chastened, curious, with the germ of ambition exuding its first sprout, that he stood one day on a shoulder of Big Hill and heard a deep voice at his elbow. Turning, he saw a man broader, heavier, though not so tall as himself, with a ! black beard and slumbrous dark eyes: he had ¡ a vast chest and heavy arms.

“Looking for a job, young fellow?”

Big John, perceiving a note of authority, gave a nod.

“Where do you come from?”


“That end, eh—tough going?”

“Some of it.”


“John Hickey.”

“Swing a hammer?”

“Yes, I can swing a hammer.”

“Two dollars a day and board; two-fifty and board yourself.”

“That’s all right,” said John.

“Go over to the clerk and get a hammer; tell him I said so.”

“Who said so?”

“Dan Mann.”

“Where's your camp?”

“Half a mile east; keep going.”

JOHN NODDED and kept going till the J right-of-way widened and he came upon a group of log buildings, some with canvas roofs, the temporary habitations of 500 men. There was Mann’s office, the storehouse, the cook camp with its log annex for supplies and fresh beef. Through the middle ran the tote road, a one-way semblance of a road, westward before noon and eastward only till midnight, a sort of trail twisting between great boulders, full of pot holes and loose rock over which straining horses tugged their creaking loads. Here every few yards one saw the wrecks of Bain wagons reduced to fragments after a few hours of useful work, the parts still glistening with bright red factory paint. Dotted about were small shacks of “blanket stiffs” or laborers who boarded and lodged themselves; while radiating from the cook camp, the focal centre, were crooked paths leading to shebeens of whisky pedlars who kept a little way back, nestling in the big timber.

The sleeping camps were marquees with hewn log floors and four-foot log walls, a box stove in the centre, and in the canvas roof a tin plate where the pipe ran through and was guyed with wire to adjoining trees. Ropes on which clothes were hung to dry ran from side to side, log bunks with mattresses stuffed with straw rose in tiers against the walls, the atmosphere was charged with sweat and strong tobacco.

This construction camp—Dan Mann’s headquarters—lay a few miles to the west of Holt City on the headwaters of the Bow River, where the steel had now arrived and to which cattle were brought by rail for killing. Holt City was important, being where the money came to from the East. Here men assembled to meet the pay car, and incidentally found that on which to spend their earnings—three hotels, a dance hall with concomitant variations, saloons, poker, faro, three-card monte, with vendors of home-manufactured liquors, housed in long-roofed shacks at convenient though secluded points. There was a police station, 1

a local jail, a post-office, a small hospital, and, most notably, the end of a two-thousand-mile copper wire whose other terminus was in Montreal.

Big John swung a hammer for a month, when Dan, whose eye had been on him from the start, put a sudden question.

“Ever handle a gang, Hickey?”


“Want to?”

John slid his horny fingers along the hammer haft and grinned.

“Yes, I guess so. Where?”

Mann pointed to a naked ridge of rock across which ran a line of stakes, each standing in its little pyramid of stones.

“That next cut. It’s about thirty feet in the middle and there’s 2,000 yards of it— sidehill work, so you can’t go far wrong. Five dollars a day and board. I’ll give you twenty Swedes; they’re all right. Start on Monday.”

HE SWUNG off, dark, dominant, his big shoulders a shade forward, while John stood looking after him with an odd sensation. He liked working for Mann, because of Mann it was said that he could do anything he called on anyone else for, and do it better. There were stories about his strength and courage. He had begun life with an axe in his hands, earning his first money by cutting ties in the tamarack swamps of Southern Manitoba. That winter the camp had run out of grub, and Mann waded all night through deep snow with two hundredweight of flour and a side of pork on his broad back. Thence by sheer physical strength, pertinacity, the inability to recognize defeat and a notable understanding of handling men difficult to handle, he had risen steadily till now, under Holt, the chief contractor in the Rockies, his prestige and reputation for fair dealing stood high. He believed that big hearts and spirits were apt to be found in big bodies, and had taken to John Hickey from the first.

John felt faintly surprised, but in no way

excited. This sort of thing was happening all round him; it seemed natural now; so he went on with his striking, delivering long rhythmical blows that carried all the power of arms, back and belly, till the man holding the steel straightened a crooked thumb, which meant that the hole needed cleaning.

“Not much more of this for you, eh?” said he, working the swab up and down with a wet sucking noise.

“No, I guess not.”

“There’s one thing about it though.”

“What’s that?”

“Ever been with Dan before you came here?”


“Well, he’s death on a foreman drinking. You drink and get caught at it, and he’ll fire you quick as lightning; he’s like that. Poker, too. Got to choose your company a bit now, though it’s none of my business.’’

“That’ll be all right,” said John, “Uve quit for good.”

“You’re getting it straight anyway. He was laying out another foreman last month, and you should ha’ heard him.” He paused jerking out his swabstick, spattering the rocks with grey-white sludge. “But you make good with Dan an’ you’ll make good all round. All right; she’s clean.”

John, faintly amused, began striking again. Cards and women ! He hadn’t played cards or spoken to a woman for eight months, and didn’t want to—except one who he thought might now be interested, having told him that he’d never give orders till he learned to take them. She was right there. A hundred and twenty-five dollars a month! Four months of that, and he’d ask Dan Mann for a sub-contract, also write to Molly and tell her to keep her money and the claim as well; then she would certainly tell Marv, and Mary might feel like writing. At this, for the second time in his life, he had a twinge of loneliness.

To be Continued